In November 2013, the Architects’ Journal and Turkishceramics invited six architecture practices to design water kiosks for one of three sites in London: Exhibition Road, Soho or the South Bank. The firms were Zaha Hadid Architects, Hopkins Architects, Eric Parry Architects, Adam Architecture, Studio Weave and AHMM.
The six original designs have now been released to the media prior to the opening of an exhibition at the Building Centre in Central London from 21 February to 14 March. Given a brief to conceptualise a water dispensing unit that considers the architectural history of the kiosk and incorporates ceramics in some way, the resulting designs vary wildly in style.
From a foliage-rich totem pole-style structure from Studio Weave to Adam Architecture’s classical tiled design and Hopkins Architects’ grand concept offering users shelter from London’s unpredictable weather, the proposals are all completely different from an aesthetic viewpoint.
Rory Olcayto, Acting Editor of the Architects’ Journal and creative director of the Kiosk project, said: “First and foremost these are fantastic designs by great architects. But each of the proposals also suggest there is a wider debate to be had around how we use our public spaces and the services cities should offer its residents and visitors.
“These water kiosks have the potential to be attractive communal landmarks amid London’s pulsing townscape as well as a useful public resource, in terms of their ability to bring people together and offer a healthy public service.”
Dating back to Ottoman-era Turkey, the water kiosk was originally used as a garden pavilion however in the late 17th century the Sultan began to pay for public kiosks to provide free, clean water to Turkish citizens. The marble and ceramic tilework structures soon inspired adaptations for western European cities which also dispensed everyday products to the public such as newspapers and cigarettes.